Using genetics to improve medicines

New programme launched to improve understanding of genetics and drug safety

The field of pharmacogenomics examines how a person’s genes may affect their reaction to certain medicines. Harnessing this information has a lot of potential benefits; from preventing harmful side effects to making space for new drug discoveries down the line. 

The Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Genomics England have launched a first-of-its-kind pilot programme that aims to use pharmacogenomics to improve our understanding of how people may react to certain medicines based on their genetic information. Through the programme, genetic information and patient samples will be collected alongside reported side effects. The pilot programme will start with a medicine called allopurinol that can sometimes cause rare skin reactions. Genetic Alliance UK welcomes this announcement and are eager to see how the field of pharmacogenomics develops to help improve the lives of those living with rare, genetic and undiagnosed conditions.

For more information on pharmacogenomics, see here. If you’d like to discuss this further with our policy team, please email